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Understanding NCCA Accreditation

ncca accreditationMany people ask me what the best "accredited" school or certification program is.  But I have found the majority of people don’t really know what accreditation means. 

Before we go any further, let’s talk about some of the misconceptions that people have about personal training accreditation and specifically NCCA Accreditation.

Myth #1: The Government Gives Accreditation to Personal Trainer Programs

This might seem like a silly myth, but some governments do regulate personal training programs.   In countries such as Australia or the United Kingdom, not only does the government regulate these programs, but they also require that personal trainers have to pass a government approved licensing exam.

personal training accreditationSo what gives an agency such as ICE (the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, the organization that administers NCCA accreditation) its power? 

Actually, they are self-appointed. They are not a part of the government or appointed by the government.  In addition, they may even be in business to make a profit.

In fact, one well known certification program created their own accreditation body. But they weren't very smart about. Since they shared the same postal address.

The bottom line is that starting a so called accreditation business is not hard to do.  Anybody can do it. So while NCCA Accreditation is not perfect, it is far better than any of the other accreditation alternatives.

Myth #2: All NCCA Accredited Programs are Good

In order to choose a good certification program, many people use accreditation to make their final choice.  The logic behind this makes a lot of sense.  But, before you make this assumption, you should really understand what it means to receive NCCA accreditation.  Also, understand what needs to be done in order to receive NCAA accreditation.

ncca accreditationThe short explanation is that a program provider only has to pay an up front fee of $1600, complete an application and pay an additional $4300 annually.

Granted this is very simplistic. There are a lot of hoops that programs have to jump through to earn their personal training accreditation.

Did you know that the NCCA Accreditation application does not ask the certifications what their personal trainers have to do and learn to receive certification.  The application asks generic questions about policies, procedures and testing methods.  

Sure, NCCA wants to know about what each applicant does in terms of testing security.  However, this type of information really does not mean that you will receive a good grasp of personal training. Thus, it is questionable whether or not you will become a good personal trainer.

In fact ICE states the following on their web site:

"Certification organizations that submit their programs for personal training accreditation are evaluated based on the process and products, not the content, and are therefore applicable to all professions and industries. "

Basically, the applicant could have a really good process in place, but have lousy content.  Despite this fact, they will still get personal training accreditation.


Myth #3: NCCA Accreditation is Only for Applicants in the Fitness Industry

The quote from their web site above dispels this myth. Basically, if you pay your fees and fill out the application, you can receive NCAA accreditation.  This extends to nurses, counselors and radiologists.


So is NCCA Accreditation a Bad Thing?

Absolutely not. It is just important to understand what it is and isn't.


Is it Wise to Select an NCCA Accredited Certification Program?

Choose the reputable program that is most suitable for you.  Whether or not a program is accredited should not be your main concern.

ncca accreditedWhen it comes to accreditation, take the following into consideration.  If you plan on working as a company employee, your boss will most likely want someone who has gone through a program that is NCCA accredited.  Not all gyms will request this.  Basically, it will depend on who is in the hiring position and what their opinion is about accreditation.  It might be good to inquire which programs are favored the most.

If you want to become an independent business owner, then it may not be necessary to spend extra money to get NCCA accredited certification.  You will get a majority of clients based upon referrals.  They will find your services via friends, family and other contacts.  Even if they want to know if you are certified, most clients won’t ask about the personal training accreditation behind the certification. 

Bottom line: Choose the certification program where you can learn the most.

by Katie Donnelly


What do you think about NCCA Accreditation?

You have read my take on it.. now tell us what you think about accrediting personal trainer certifications.

NCCA Accreditation Discussions

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